Australia’s most diverse streaming service, SBS On Demand offers audiences a truly global catalogue of more than 7,000 hours of dramas, documentaries and movies.
Sixty-six per cent of all content on the platform is culturally and linguistically diverse, and more than 75 per cent of all dramas available are in a language other than English. 2018-19 saw more than 900 hours of premiere and exclusive content in languages other than English added to the platform - a 28 per cent increase on the previous year.
While competition in both the domestic and international video streaming markets has accelerated at a rapid pace, SBS’s distinctive offering continues to bring younger and more diverse audiences to the SBS network. Total SBS user registrations increased 53 per cent and total video streams grew by 16.5 per cent year on year. The diversity of SBS On Demand’s content offering is critical to this growth in consumption, with more than half of the top 20 titles on the platform being culturally and linguistically diverse, and more than a third in languages other than English.
Buoyed by this success, SBS continues to build on its commitment to champion diversity both on and off screen, with new commissioned content for SBS On Demand as well as more subtitled and captioned programming.
As part of SBS’s commitment to better serving Australia’s diverse communities, SBS On Demand has made more content available in-language, with new Chinese and Arabic Collections released in 2019, featuring subtitled SBS commissioned series alongside international movies (see Subtitling for more information). SBS On Demand also curated a series of themed collections to mark significant community celebrations and events throughout the year, including Thinking Queer (documentaries) and Rainbow Pride (movies) collections to coincide with the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, and a Bollywood collection to mark Holi, the Hindu Festival of Colours.
SBS On Demand’s commissioning strategy is focused on creating new opportunities to develop the next generation of diverse creative voices, with 2018’s Homecoming Queens, a female-driven drama focused on two twenty-somethings navigating adulthood after life-changing illness, and Robbie Hood, a heart-warming comedy set in Central Australia, which launched in July 2019 (see Robbie Hood for more detail). SBS’s Short Form Content Initiative continues to give a platform to underrepresented Australian filmmakers (see Diversity on and off screen).
SBS continues to evolve its release strategies to engaged cross-platform audiences. In December 2018, SBS On Demand premiered the full first season of international blockbuster adaptation, Das Boot in line with the first episode broadcast on SBS.
Box set availability is becoming increasingly important in the streaming environment, allowing audiences to consume content at their own pace. Full box sets of Berlin Station, The Family Law and Fortitude all returned to the platform to coincide with new seasons in 2018-19, while in-language titles such as seminal Danish political thriller Borgen were available to stream in full for the first time in 2019.
Free of the confines of the linear schedule, SBS has made its high profile, broad appeal series available sooner, fast-tracking content to SBS On Demand immediately after international broadcast, rather than forcing viewers to wait for an appropriate prime time slot. The top three streamed titles in 2018-19 – The Handmaid’s Tale, The Orville and Brooklyn Nine-Nine – were all delivered to audiences in this way.
As online streaming becomes an established viewing behaviour, we must meet audience expectations around high quality content, convenience and seamless product experiences. A number of technology and product enhancements to the SBS On Demand platform in 2018-19 aim to deliver a more intuitive viewing experience that makes discovering SBS’s diverse content easier.
Technology and Product Enhancements
Upgrades to Panasonic and Hisense connected TV apps to enable easier searching, navigation and content discovery
Better integration into Apple TV’s Top Shelf to enable users to more easily find SBS On Demand content
New functionality to expose audiences to more of SBS’s diverse content offering, including:
Increased personalisation across mobile, desktop and connected TVs, improving content recommendations and providing algorithmic personalised content based upon viewing behaviour. Views of recommended content increased by 70 per cent after the release of this feature
One-off recommendations during credits in programs without an available next episode for web and connected TV devices
Auto-play next episode functionality introduced on web and connected TV devices to allow users to more easily consume episodic content – 88 per cent of users who have seen this auto-play feature have used it to jump to the next episode of the program
A continued focus on stability and scalability through test automation, upgraded infrastructure to include dynamically scaling capabilities and reduced video start times and start failures
Moved from a third party vendor to an in-house mobile app development team which allowed for accelerated iOS and Android mobile app product development, including:
A new Android TV application, allowing SBS to reach an even greater audience through a native, dynamic user experience. The SBS On Demand Android TV app was downloaded over 103,000 times in the two month since launch in April 2019.
Improved user experience on iOS
Rebuild of iOS including faster page loading, use of native navigation gesture support and fewer application crashes
Redesigning and rebuilding the iOS and Android video players to offer a more stable viewing experience as well as allowing users to more easily navigate through video content
Rebuilding the Chromecast application to provide a more stable viewing experience – app store reviews for Android increased by 92 per cent from beginning of 2019 to June, due to the Chromecast and video player updates
Improved commercial capabilities, including:
OzTAM video reporting across connected TVs to ensure full coverage across all supported platforms. SBS On Demand averages 14 per cent of video consumption per month compared to other BVOD services
Better targeted promos and advertising experience on connected TVs